Shifts in the Economy Fuels Optimism for Canadian Tourism
The Canadian Tourism Commission believes 2015 will be banner year. Low gas prices, a low Canadian dollar and an increasing number of international flight routes is fueling optimism that 2015 will be an excellent year for Canadian tourism. This beautiful country filled with diversity and culture has attracted tourists from all over the world for many years, and with several sporting events and major conventions set to take place in various locations around the county; 2015 is projected to be a very successful year tourism wise.
Canada welcomed 1,010,406 international visitors in April 2015, up 3.5% compared to April 2014 according to a tourism snapshot report by Destination Canada (DC). In the first four months of 2015, Canada recorded 3,327,995 international arrivals, up 5.7% relative to 2014. The international visitor peak on record during the month of April is 1,167,371 visitors, which occurred in 2001.
In April 2015, overnight arrivals from DC’s European markets decreased 8.9%, mainly due to the Easter holiday shifting to early April this year (Easter fell in late April in 2014). This decline comes after a strong increase (+8.2%) in arrivals from these markets in March 2015. Germany led the contraction (-22.8%), followed by the UK (-7.0%) and France (-2.0%).
Overnight arrivals from DC markets in Asia-Pacific grew significantly (+8.0%) in April 2015, achieving the highest level of arrivals for this month on record, thanks to strong growth from China (+17.6%), India (+10.1%) and South Korea (+9.1%).
Arrivals from DC’s two Latin American markets remained stable (-0.1%) in April 2015, following a strong increase in arrivals in March 2015 due to the early Easter holiday. Year to date April 2015, Latin American arrivals from key markets were up 14%.
In April 2015, gains in U.S. arrivals by auto (+5.0%), air (+8.4%) and other modes of transport (1.2%) resulted in total U.S. arrivals rising for the fifth consecutive month (+5.8% over April 2014). The improvement from the U.S. occurred amid a more favorable exchange rate for U.S. visitors; the U.S. dollar has appreciated 12.3% against the Canadian dollar over the past year.
Canada welcomed about 701,000 U.S. overnight visitors in April 2015. The U.S visitor peak on record during the month of April occurred in 2001, with 890,000 overnight trips.
The Opportunity BC 2020: Tourism Sector conducted a report for the Business Council of British Columbia and found that roughly 72% of overnight visitor revenues (generated by sales from goods and services) in British Columbia (BC) come from out-of-province visitors. These revenues add approximately $7 billion annually to the BC economy.
Surprisingly, British Columbians account for the largest portion of visitors to this region. The report shows that 50% of visitors and 28% of total spending arises from BC residents traveling from within the providence. The rest of Canada accounts for a strong portion of tourism, accounting for 21% of visitors and 29% of spending.
In terms of international visitors, the U.S. remains as the largest market by far, accounting for 21% of total visitors and 24% of revenues. Markets outside of the U.S. and Canada combined account for a mere 8% of visitors and 19% of visitor spending.
Tourism Vancouver is forecasting a 2.9% one-year increase in tourism in 2015, pushing the overnight visitation figure to over 9-million for the first time. Strong growth is expected to continue from key growth markets in China (18%), Mexico (12%) and India (8%). Overnight visitation growth from the United States will grow by 4%.
Vancouver is set to host more major conventions in 2015 such as the largest international medical conventions in the city’s history: the World Congress of Dermatology with 15,000 attendees and the International AIDS Society conference (7,000 attendees).
Additionally, Vancouver just hosted one of the year’s largest international sporting events – the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015. The City of Vancouver released its World Cup projections to be an estimating $36.7 million boost into the local economy.
Toronto Dominion (TD) Bank Group revised its gross domestic product (GDP) growth projections for Canadian provinces on January 26, 2015. Within TD Bank Group’s update to its Provincial Economic Forecast, the outlook for Ontario’s economy in 2015 was elevated from 2.5% to 2.7%. The report went on to predict that Ontario will lead Canada’s economic growth in 2015 and 2016.
Ontario is benefiting from the low price of oil and weak Canadian dollar, but it also owes its recent upswing in demand to a strong economic recovery in the U.S.. While the majority of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s GDP growth projections were also scaled back amid the rapid descent in the price of oil, the U.S., Ontario’s largest importer, was one of a few countries that had their forecast revised up – and fairly significantly. As of January 19th, 2015, IMF projects 3.6% growth from the U.S. in 2015, compared with the 3.1% estimate released in December 2014.
Although Canada’s standing as a net producer of oil may put downward pressure on growth projections for the country as a whole, and on the Canadian currency – prospects for business in Ontario look very promising. Ontario manufacturers stand to gain from the lower price of oil, while the weak Canadian dollar has already resulted in increases in demand from a growing U.S. market. Businesses relocating to Ontario are poised to profit from this favorable mix of economic factors.
Welcoming over 25 million visitors annually, Toronto is the leading tourism destination in Canada. This dynamic city offers superb attractions and events backed by the best convention and sporting facilities in the country.
The city saw its biggest-ever tourism season in 2014, a year that brought marquee events like World Pride to the city. Tourism Toronto announced that the city saw 14.3 millon overnight visitors in 2014 up roughly 600,000 from 2013 (also a record-setting year).
Though U.S. tourism stayed strong (more than 2.3 million of those visitors were American), Toronto also saw its highest-ever visitation numbers from overseas (primarily China, while the U.K., India, Japan and Germany also contributed plenty of tourists). All of that added up to the highest hotel occupation rate in the country, at a whopping 71.4%.
Tourism is a key export industry that plays an important role in the city’s economy; generating employment, foreign exchange earnings, investment and regional development. Visitors spend $5.1 billion, generating $3.8 billion in Gross Domestic Product, almost $2.5 billion in labor income (Ontario’s Tourism Regional Economic Impact Model, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, 2010). The annual $5.1 billion spent by visitors in the region is itemized as follows: Transportation: $1.8 billion, Accommodation: $1.0 billion, Food and beverages: $1.1 billion, Recreation/ entertainment: $339 million, Retail/ other: $766million.
Tourism projections for 2015 continue to stay strong with major sporting events such as the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games taking place in Toronto this summer. The games will draw more than 10,000 athletes and officials, 250,000 visitors and 4,000 media to Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe region.